Not just for sharing with twins or separated best friends—readers will be reassured that the hot-and-cold seesaw of emotions...

TWINDERGARTEN

How will twins assigned to different kindergarten classrooms survive the first day of school?

Biracial (black/white) twins Zoe and Dax are inseparable…until school starts, that is. On the night before the first day, Dax has jitters and doubts, so he pushes his bed closer to Zoe’s, while Zoe is confident, holding her brother’s hand as they go to sleep to reassure him. But in the morning, when their parents drop them off at school, their roles suddenly reverse. Dax quickly makes a new friend and has a great day. But Zoe just longs for her brother. The two make the most of their joint recess time, but all too soon it’s over. A note from her brother turns out to be the key to helping Zoe feel more secure, and she finally joins in with new friends. While this turnaround seems a bit too quick to be believable, it’s nonetheless encouraging that both have good days in the end. The white backgrounds in the colored-pencil illustrations keep the focus on the twins and their emotions, made clear through body language and facial expressions. Their classes (and teachers!) are nicely diverse, and Wagner gives readers a peek at kindergarten goings-on.

Not just for sharing with twins or separated best friends—readers will be reassured that the hot-and-cold seesaw of emotions they may be experiencing is normal. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-256423-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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